A former judge of the court says it is about time the government offered clarityby David Edward / August 31, 2017 / Leave a comment
Last week, the government published a position paper on the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and possible alternatives. It begins by saying that:
“In leaving the European Union, we will bring about an end to the direct jurisdiction of the Court of Justice.”
What does that actually mean and what will it involve for businesses and individuals in the UK?
The main function of the ECJ is to answer questions about EU law, and how it should be interpreted and applied. These questions constantly arise in the courts of the Member States in cases brought by individuals, companies and firms. If in doubt, the national court can ask the ECJ to say what the law is. UK courts did so in 23 cases in 2016.
The sort of questions that are put to the ECJ range over a myriad of different subjects. Many of them are technical questions relating to the functioning of the single market and the customs union: trade marks, environmental protection, customs duties, pharmaceutical standards, and food safety.
But many of the cases relate to the personal problems of individuals who seek the protection of EU law: discrimination on grounds of gender or race, workers’ rights, family rights, social security, access to education and health care, compensation for cancelled flights, protection against unfair contracts, arrest warrants, and abduction of children. As a wise old judge of the Court observed, “The migrant worker is not regarded by Community law as a mere source of labour but is viewed as a human being.”